18 January 2007


"beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God..."

interwoven we are;
different gifts, different faces;
blending together, not perceiving
where one stops and the other starts

seeing God through others' eyes,
we taste this mystery;
diversity finding its sweetness
in the unity that enfolds us

pieces of the same puzzle;
unique threads in a similar tapestry;
bringing forth wholistically
one body from many parts

the Spirit's unifying power;
being made new together;
pulling together the fragments
that by all rights should be left distinct

where is God?
where must i go to find him?
to arms of my brothers,
in the eyes of my sisters

he speaks to us;
gently wooing us from afar,
promising to transform us
through the lives of his people

working in the hearts of each of us,
powerfully, yet uniquely
he bears our burdens
through the love of his loved ones

may we be one as we seek his kingdom

16 January 2007

wisdom, knowledge, and the source for change

"He contemplated the grandeur, and the presence of God; the eternity of the future, strange mystery; the eternity of the past, mystery yet more strange; all the infinities deep-hidden in every direction about him; and, without essaying to comprehend the incomprehensible, he saw it. He did not study God; he was dazzled by the thought He reflected upon these magnificent unions of atoms, which give visible forms to Nature, revealing forces in establishing them, creating individualities in unity, proportions in extension, the innumerable in the infinite, and through light producing beauty. These unions are forming and dissolving continually; thence life and death." Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

there is, seemingly, an ensuing battle between the acquisition of knowledge and the wisdom of experience. what the spoils happen to be of such a conflict can only be change. we fight for a brilliant consciousness of truth, pursuing it doggedly until we are more confounded than when we first began. we strive impatiently to penetrate the great mysteries of existence only to become increasingly exasperated. we believe knowledge to have transforming abilities, but in the end, it seems that life experience is what gives mould to our identity.

remarkably, we become increasingly better at living as the pages of our calenders are perseveringly ripped away. as if life itself, or at least the experience of living, has educated us in its own way. we begin to accept things for "how they are" in contrast with "how they came to be" or even "why they are what they have come to be." in contemplation, not penetration, we obtain that blissful joy and transformation we so ardently desire. of course, part of living is learning, and learning is influenced by the knowledge we obtain as we tread slowly over life's path.

and so, certainly, in our comparison of knowledge and wisdom, we see that each influences the other. wisdom is informed by knowledge and our pursuit of knowledge is dictated by the wisdom we possess. but knowledge, in my estimation, will only take us so far. even st. paul, in his epistle to the romans, after giving a lengthy discourse on the gospel and enumerating for us so aptly the knowledge that God has graciously given him, seems to throw his hands up in bewilderment exclaiming, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"

knowledge, assuredly, is a gracious bestowal from Him who gives "all good and perfect gifts". we cannot function without it. but to effect change, in our lives, in our hearts, in our minds, and in our communities, perhaps we should seek to ponder anew the greatness of God and his grace, both things revealed and those shrouded in mystery, our goal not being one of discovery, but one of change for the good of our communities, our loved ones, and our selves.

if we forsake wisdom to the deceit that knowledge, left to itself, provides us, we profit nothing. if we pursue wisdom through experience, knowledge will come with it. the fool sees knowledge as an end in itself. the wise man employs knowledge in the appreciations he has for life, either now or in eternity, seeking change of self and his surroundings, savoring the sweetness that God offers experientially.

15 January 2007

struggling with identity

learning about ourselves (or perhaps this quandary is exclusively mine) seems to be a particularly difficult and painstaking process. we unearth a layer of our hearts in order to discover the miscellaneous secrets underneath these callous exteriors only to experience a shocking dismay.

upon completion of burrowing through any given layer of our core, we become startlingly frightened of what we perceive thriving abundantly in these more interior compartments of our hearts. we experience despair that hitherto has been completely unknown to us, driving us to quickly conceal the aforementioned grotesqueness or fill in what we have only recently uncovered. we fear that another might also see what we have seen or that we cannot even admit to ourselves the perfidious nature of so profane a reality.

inevitably, this results in our inability to reveal to others and ourselves the true identity that we possess. constantly bombarded by fear of compromising the image that we have so expertly crafted, we continue to pile on a fabricated layer of shit that is neither genuine nor aromatic. this process builds upon foundations already laid to the point that we cannot even distinguish for ourselves who we are or what we have become.

behold the changing work of the Spirit of God...

the promise begins to linger on the edge of our consciousness... "i will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh... i will put my Spirit within you..." the spark of joy from such a concept is slowly and enduringly fanned into inquenchable flame. we contemplate in disbelief that such a miraculous work could exist.

we are forced into the unbearable heat of God's presence. we experience the excruciating pain of change as the fire hardens our exterior. it begins to crack and flake, and at the moment at which we are certain of destruction that the revelation of God's righteousness surely brings, the soothing wind of the spirit carries away from us the shattered shell of our artificial image to reveal something fresh. we hear faintly on the whispers of this wind, "i am making all things new..."

we embrace the newness. we savor it. we have seen the identity which we had fictitiously built in our minds gloriously swept away and replaced with a new one. we have become "new creations... the old have passed away... the new have come."

do not be afraid.

03 December 2006

glimpses of heaven

much of life is trudgery. pain and suffering, or at least monotony (which has its own version of excruciation), dominate our days. but as we carry on, sometimes questioning this process of existence as futile, our eyes our enlightened suddenly by an aptly placed glimpse of what has been promised for the future.

although we know that truth and beauty exist and have the capacity to impact us greatly, we seemingly only feel their presence briefly. to borrow a conceptual image from tolkien, in the midst of life's storms, the sun breaks violently through the clouds that darken our horizon to show us that their is something greater, something that rises far above the difficult situations and experiences that we find most familiarity with. that their placement in the timelines of our lives speaks to God's wisdom in providing for us a respite from the fallen nature of the world in which we live. for the briefest of moments, the veil of this world is temporarily lifted, giving us a glimpse of such grandeur and splendor that forces us to turn our heads and clutch our breasts out of reaction to the shocking effects that precipitate from such a sight.

these glimpses serve to stimulate our hope. they serve to keep us continually forward-looking. they serve to remind us that our experiences have an educating and shaping nature to them. our Creator, both physically and spiritually, is transforming us. preparing us for an eternity of glorious existence in which we can gaze upon our beautiful Christ who overflowingly produces in us a lasting and increasing delight.

so abide in Christ in the midst of this life. wait patiently for the moments in which our God forces us to briefly gaze upon the beauty that he has promised to give us eternally in the future. catch your breath. savor those experiences in which your heart expands and when dreams of what is far off seem closer than they did but a moment before. for they will help you carry on and persevere through the seeming depravity and discouragement that we so often reap from this life, but what are in actuality shaping and renewing forces.

"and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another."

27 November 2006

hanging on for dear life... that is eternal -- thoughts on 1 john 2:28 - 3:10

we desire fellowship with God. we find our greatest joy in it. Christ has provided it for us through faith. we fight against our flesh, the world, those who try to deceive us, and the devil to savor it. how can we experience it more fully? when can we experience it in its fullest?

“And now, little children, abide in him…”

abide in Christ. this is what john tells us. throughout his first letter, john has visited and revisited what this means. john considers it of no little importance. abide in him. trust him. believe his promises. cling desperately to him and the cross and everything he secured for us on it. hold on.

“…so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at is coming.”

Christ is coming. he is coming back. abide in him. stand with confidence at his return. not in a life well lived, but that he has lived well. and he died well. and he defeated death to enable us to live it well also. we can stand with confidence in his work when he returns. he will be faithful to have completed his work in us.

“If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”

Christ is righteous. in him was no sin. he took ours. he made us righteous. he gave us his robe of righteousness. we stand before his judgment wearing it. he also has given us new hearts. they are from him. gifts he gives to those born of him.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

we are God’s children. this is our new identity. once objects of wrath; now objects of love. this is great love, unconditional love, undeserved love. gaze upon it. admire it, reflect upon it, marvel at it. it cannot be taken from you.

“The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

we still fight with sin. it hurts. it hurts others. the world hurts, sometimes unknowingly. we want to help. we want to share God’s love in the midst of pain. but the world doesn’t trust us. they don’t know us. they don’t know our father.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

hang on. he is coming. he will complete his work. we will be free from sin. we will be free from pain. we will be free from joylessness. we will see him as he is. it will change us forever. gaze upon his love.

“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

abide in him. look at him. gaze upon him. hope in him. hope in his love. it will change us. it will purify us. it will help us become like him.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”

he is righteous. in him there is no sin. his ways are right. his ways are good. he came to take our sin, our hurt, our pain. abide in him. keep his commandments. he has made us righteous. he is making us righteous. he will make us righteous. if we continue to sin, we must question our faith. john urges us back to the cross. here Jesus took from us our sin, our pain, our unbelief. here Jesus gave us our righteousness. the change in us shows the change God has made in our hearts. if we don’t see a change, we must return to the cross. it is our only hope for fellowship with God. it is our only hope for joy.

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

john gill, in his Exposition of the Bible, writes, “for as a tree is known by its fruits, so is a good man by his good works, and a righteous man by doing righteousness; and as good fruit does not make a good tree, but shows it to be good, so good works do not make a good man, nor a man's own righteousness make him a righteous man, but show him to be so.”

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."

abide in him. keep his commandments. we are God’s children as a result of God’s great love. his love produces in us new hearts, new attitudes, and new affections. by these we can know we are born of God. if we do not have these, we must return to the cross and beg for them. abide in him. he is coming back. he will make us new. he will be faithful to complete his work. we will stand with confidence. we will stand with confidence because of his work. abide in him. trust him. hope in him. cling to his work on the cross. he will be back soon.

“And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.”

26 November 2006

looking into the future

ah... the future.

so promising and full of mystery. but is it really? at least the near future doesn't promise very much. and it is not much of a mystery, that's for damn sure. i know what i'll be doing for quite some time: second-guessing myself and wondering what the hell i'm gonna do with the rest of this life.

i can look forward to the consummation of all things. and that does actually give me a great deal of hope. it really will be nice to be done. but how can i spend the hours, the weeks, the months, the years, that might still exist between now and then?

i suppose this all may smack of morbidity and depressing ideas, but is it too much to say, "i don't see much promise in this life, can't we move on to the next already?"

you know, i do believe that we can have life to the full, but i wonder increasingly if that life was meant to be had here. we live, breathe, eat, love, hate, shit, help, work, taste, etc, etc... most of what happens here sucks. we get glimpses of something fresh, glorious, and exciting that points to something far off in what is ominously called the future (something that is always ahead of us, but never here), but they fade away into the muck that accounts for the rest of our lives.

i grant to my contrarians that i have little room to complain. i work, make enough money to pay my bills and have a little extra, live more comfortably than many others, and have a considerable number of people who care for me. i don't live in poverty or squalor. i'm not hungry or cold. but these things don't rob me of the fact that i'm unhappy.

as stated above, we get glimpses of that happiness: in a friendship, a fun evening, a glorious sunset, a word of scripture spoken to the heart, a good joke... but i am coming to the belief that my great happiness still rests in the unseen future. the end of this life, the beginning of a new one.

perhaps i am impatient. or in a disgruntled mood. or lonely. but the promise of the future lingers on the fringes of my mind. i want heaven. i want to grasp that which my hope longs for. i want to be rid of pain, and sorrow, and doubt, and unhappiness. i want to see the source and object of my affection. i can feel it, almost barely sometimes, but the hope i have for the distant future has been secured in my heart and i don't want to wait.

i am sure that in all of this there is something shockingly unbiblical, but it's how i feel right now.